Add to Cart About Herculine Barbin With an eye for the sensual bloom of young schoolgirls, and the torrid style of the romantic novels of her day, Herculine Barbin tells the story of her life as a hermaphrodite. Herculine was designated female at birth. A pious girl in a Catholic orphanage, a bewildered adolescent enchanted by the ripening bodies of her classmates, a passionate lover of another schoolmistress, she is suddenly reclassified as a man. Alone and desolate, he commits suicide at the age of thirty in a miserable attic in Paris. Here, in an erotic diary, is one lost voice from our sexual past.
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Early life[ edit ] Most of what we know about Barbin comes from her later memoirs. She was assigned as a girl and raised as such; her family referred to her as Alexina. Her family was poor but she gained a charity scholarship to study in the school of an Ursuline convent. According to her account, she had a crush on an aristocratic female friend in school. There, she fell in love with one of the teachers.
Puberty[ edit ] Although Barbin was in puberty, she had not begun to menstruate and remained flat chested. The hairs on her upper lip and cheeks were noticeable. She fell in love with another teacher, Sara, and Barbin demanded that only she should dress her. Her ministrations turned into caresses and they became lovers. Eventually, rumors about their affair began to circulate. Barbin, although sick her whole life, began to suffer excruciating pains. When a doctor examined her, he was shocked and asked that she should be sent away from the school, but she stayed.
He asked her permission to break the confessional silence in order to send for a doctor to examine her. When Dr. Chesnet did so in , he discovered that even though Barbin had a small vagina , she had a masculine body type, a very small penis, and testicles inside her body.
In 20th-century medical terms, she had male pseudohermaphroditism. Reassignment as male[ edit ] A later legal decision declared officially that Barbin was male. She left her lover and her job, changed her name to Abel Barbin and was briefly mentioned in the press. She moved to Paris where she lived in poverty and wrote her memoirs, reputedly as a part of therapy. In the memoirs, Barbin would use female pronouns when writing about her life prior to sexual redesignation and male pronouns, including Alexina and Camille, following the declaration.
She had died by suicide by inhaling gas from her coal gas stove. Her memoirs were found beside her bed. Regnier reported the death, recovered the memoirs and performed an autopsy. The excerpts were translated into English in Michel Foucault discovered the memoirs in the s while conducting research at the French Department of Public Hygiene.
In his edition, Foucault also included a set of medical reports, legal documents, and newspaper articles, as well as a short story adaptation by Oscar Panizza. Herculine, a full-length play based on the memoirs of Barbin, is by Garrett Heater. Kira Obolensky also wrote a two-act stage adaptation entitled The Adventures of Herculina.
Further information: Intersex in history The 12th-century canon law collection known as the Decretum Gratiani states that "Whether an hermaphrodite may witness a testament, depends on which sex prevails" "Hermafroditus an ad testamentum adhiberi possit, qualitas sexus incalescentis ostendit. If therefore the person is drawn to the feminine more than the male, the person does not receive the order. If the reverse, the person is able to receive but ought not to be ordained on account of deformity and monstrosity. From puberty, her body began to exhibit more masculine traits. In line with early legal practices, she was reassigned as male following an affair. She subsequently took her own life.
Re: Herculine Barbin
Early life[ edit ] Most of what we know about Barbin comes from her later memoirs. She was assigned as a girl and raised as such; her family referred to her as Alexina. Her family was poor but she gained a charity scholarship to study in the school of an Ursuline convent. According to her account, she had a crush on an aristocratic female friend in school.